A Texas couple is suing Apple, claiming the company’s FaceTime feature on the iPhone is responsible for the death of their 5-year-old daughter, who was killed in a car crash involving a driver who was allegedly using the app.
The couple, James and Bethany Modisette, say that Apple has failed to use “lock-out” technology that could stop FaceTime from being used by motorists while driving, Courthouse News reported.
The little girl, Moriah Modisette, was killed on Christmas Eve 2014 when the Toyota Camry she was traveling in with her parents was struck from behind by a Toyota 4Runner on Interstate 35 north of Dallas. The Camry had slowed or stopped for traffic when it was struck by the SUV going 65 mph, the lawsuit states.
The driver of the 4Runner, 22-year-old Garrett Wilhelm, was using FaceTime when he struck the Modisettes’ vehicle, according to the lawsuit.
Wilhelm’s vehicle rolled “up and over the driver’s side of the Modisette car,” the lawsuit states. Driver James and Moriah, seated behind her father, were both critically injured. Moriah was airlifted to Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth, where she died of her injuries, the Denton Record-Chronicle reported.
James, Bethany, and 8-year-old daughter Isabella were taken by ambulance to Denton Regional Medical Center, along with Wilhelm, according to the Record-Chronicle.
Wilhelm — whose FaceTime app was still active when officers arrived on the scene, police say — now faces a manslaughter charge.
But Apple’s failures “were a substantial factor in causing the plaintiffs’ injuries and decedent’s death,” the Modisettes’ wrongful death lawsuit states.
The suit, filed last week in Santa Clara County Superior Court, claims Apple was granted a patent in 2014 for a never-used FaceTime design that would have used GPS tracking to determine speed of travel to prevent people from using the app while driving.
Apple filed its application for the “driver handheld computing device lock-out” with the U.S. Patent Office in 2008, the complaint states, according to Courthouse News.
Apple never implemented the design, nor did it strongly warn drivers against using the feature while driving, the lawsuit filed Dec. 23 claims.
“Apple, Inc.’s failure to exercise reasonable care caused or contributed to the risk of causing Garrett Wilhelm to use ‘FaceTime’ while driving his car … which caused him to be distracted from the conditions on the road ahead,” the lawsuit states.
The suit accuses Apple of negligence, among other claims, and seeks monetary damages.
Apple has not responded.
KTLA’s Melissa Pamer contributed to this article.
A version of this article originally appeared on Newser: Parents Sue, Blame FaceTime for Death of Daughter
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